Nampa lawmaker proposes new bill to limit electioneering

After working with some of his critics, Rep. Jason Monks has a new bill to prohibit the use of public funds for electioneering.

Without debate, the House State Affairs introduced the bill Friday morning. That means the bill could come back for a full hearing at a later date.

Monks, R-Nampa, proposed a similar bill in 2017. The thrust of the latest bill is unchanged: “Neither a public entity nor its employees shall make, nor shall a public official make or authorize, an expenditure from public funds to advocate for or against a candidate or a ballot measure.”

But there are several things Monks’ latest bill explicitly allows.

Public officials and employees can still speak out on ballot measures, and make personal contributions to campaigns. A city, county or school district could still send out a neutral statement encouraging people to vote. And politicking could still occur at a city park, the Statehouse steps or anyplace else that’s available to the general public.

This time around, Monks has also scaled back possible penalties. Public officials or employees could be subject to a $250 fine — similar to the fine for violations of Idaho’s Open Meeting Law. Monks’ 2017 bill would have made a violation a misdemeanor, subject to a $1,000 fine.

In 2017, Monks’ bill passed the House but stalled in the Senate. After the session, Monks worked with the Idaho School Boards Association on compromise language. The ISBA supports this bill, after opposing the 2017 version.

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